Pennsylvania’s dog laws now require owners to purchase up-to-date licenses, fees/penalties increased

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has announced that all dogs three months and older must be licensed by January 1 of each year.

The goal of the law is to help lost dogs find their way home. Violators of the new law are subject to fines of up to $300 (plus court costs).

The changes came with Governor Josh Shapiro’s signing of Senate Bill 746 in October.

The law makes several changes, including requiring dogs to be licensed at the time they are bought or adopted, which is legal at eight weeks, or by the time they are three months old, whichever comes first. People selling or offering dogs for adoption also have to provide a copy of the dog license application.

The law also doubles registration fees for keeping a dangerous dog and puts more responsibility on owners if they violate the conditions of having that dog.

The criminal penalties for all other violations of the dog law have increased to $500 to $1,000 for summary offenses and $1,000 to $5,000 for misdemeanor offenses plus court costs.

“Pennsylvanians have made it clear that they expect kennels, breeders, and shelters to be held to high standards,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “They want their communities to be safe from stray and dangerous dogs. They want owners to be held responsible when their dog attacks, and they want unscrupulous breeders to be shut down. The Shapiro Administration, working with both parties in the legislature, has made commonsense changes to the dog law to keep our communities, our families, and our dogs safe and healthy.”

An annual license is $8.50 and a lifetime license is $51.50. If the animal is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.50 and lifetime is $31.50. Discounts are available to older adults and people with disabilities. 

Lifetime dog licenses mean that your dog must be microchipped or tattooed. The lifetime license application must be sent in with a completed Permanent Identification Verification Form and are only available through the County Treasurer (not online or at an agent).

In addition to protecting your dog, dog license dollars support the work of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. License dollars fully fund their efforts to:

  • Return runaway dogs home to their families,
  • Find shelter for unlicensed strays,
  • Investigate dog bites,
  • Monitor and track Pennsylvania’s dangerous dogs on a statewide registry,
  • Inspect kennels and ensure the dogs that call the kennels home are well taken care of, and
  • Crack down on bad actors and illegal kennels.

To purchase a dog license, you can click here. For more details, you can click here.